We think about safety in everything we do in the gym. The following processes have been put in place with safety in mind:
For those who have not climbed/belayed before, the Introductory Lesson ensures that they know the 3 fundamental skills needed to climb safely:
- Putting on the climbing harness
- Tying into the climbing rope with a figure-8 follow-through and keeper knot
- Operating the belay device (“Grigri”) properly to take up slack as the climber goes up the wall, and then lower them gently to the padded floor when they’re done
Those who know how to belay must pass our Belay Safety Test before they are allowed to do so in our gym. This short, free test is available on demand, and requires demonstration of the 3 skills taught in the Introductory Lesson. Those taking the Introductory Lesson will be given a Belay Test on their next visit to the gym, to show that they have retained what they learned.
Lead Climbing Class
For those who are ready to move on from top-roping, we offer the Lead Class, which is given in two 3-hour sessions, normally held a week apart. The class covers the skills and safety knowledge needed to lead climb in the gym, along with practice to build competence at all the skills.
Those who know how to lead climb/belay must pass our lead test before being allowed to lead climb or belay in our gym. The test is free, but should be booked in advance to ensure a qualified instructor is available. The test covers all the safety issued related to lead climbing, including proper clipping, rope management, falling and belaying, including a dynamic catch. Those taking the Lead Climbing Class will be given a Lead Test on their next visit to the gym, to show that they have retained what they learned.
Belay Tag System
Because our gym is large, and there are many people coming and going each day, we have adopted a belay tag system to keep track of who is certified to do what in the gym. This allows our staff to tell at a glance when someone is doing something questionable. We issue the following types of belay tags:
- White: observer or climb-only. The person has a valid waiver and is allowed in the climbing area, but may not belay
- Pink: just completed an Introductory Lesson. The person has shown competence, but will be watched carefully by our staff to ensure they’re not forgetting anything!
- Red: certified for top-rope belay. The person has passed our Belay Test.
- Green: certified for lead belay. The person has passed our Lead Test. The lead belay tags are clearly marked with the type(s) of belay device for which the person has demonstrated competence: T (tube device, such as an ATC), G (Grigri) or T/G (both kinds of device).
- Light Green: certified to lead climb only, but not belay. These are issued only to youth climbers who are lead climbing (usually in preparation for competition), but are not yet ready to lead belay.
Our staff continually monitor what is going on in the gym, watching for anything that might compromise safe and fun climbing. We will intervene if we notice improper equipment use (such as a harness that is not properly done up), unsafe belay technique, or anyone belaying without the appropriate belay certification.
During day camp, school groups and birthday parties when our staff are belaying children, we maintain a ratio of 1 staff member for every 5 children or less (1:4 for shorter events such as birthday parties). We feel this allows us to maintain control of the group, and also allows enough climbing time for each child.